Shandelle Battersby checks into a beautiful property with an exceptional restaurant.
Location: On Frankton Rd, about 5km from Queenstown Airport towards the CBD, on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
Room: A spacious, executive lake-view room with a great outlook from the large private patio over the lake towards the Remarkables which were, on this early autumn visit, bare of snow. The hotel has 60 rooms and 90 apartments of various tastefully decorated configurations. Mine had a door on the balcony giving access to the adjoining room, a decent-sized desk, a double wardrobe and a big set of drawers. The blinds for the patio ranchslider were electric, as was the one for the big window between the bathroom and the rest of the room. I wished I had more time to kick back and watch a movie on the flat-screen telly from the comfy L-shaped couch, but I was too busy getting out and exploring the best of what Queenstown had to offer. The in-room compendium is accessed via a Samsung tablet, which is also loaded with the Queenstown Historical Society app.
Check-in experience: Slick and friendly with the perfect touch of laid-back Kiwiness, despite many of the staff being from overseas. Everyone I encountered seemed genuinely happy in their work. You enter the hotel at level 7, with the rooms all underneath, cascading down towards the lakeshore. The lobby is an elegant space, with huge windows looking out on to the lake, a big fireplace, a high ceiling, lots of comfy seating, coffee machine, wine cellar (have a wine by the windows in the Bordeau Wine Lounge) and a small library featuring valuable historical books. Above the fireplace is a big painting of the hotel's namesake, William Gilbert Rees (Queenstown's first European settler). Like the rooms, the decor features a lot of wood, though here it sits alongside stone, and there is clever lighting. There's a free concierge service for activity bookings, and a regular complimentary shuttle into town. Reception is staffed 24 hours a day.
The bed: A suitably luxurious super-king Rees bed which is comprised of two king singles, with a pillow menu featuring six options.
The bathroom: Large and modern, with an Italian-designed spa bath, fantastic standalone shower, heated towel rack, and a covetable basin. It was absolutely spotless.
Toiletries: A lovely high-quality range called True South Spa, made specially for the Rees from Central Otago lavender. One of the products is an exfoliating body scrub.
Food and drink: One of the highlights. You must dine in at the True South Dining Room if you're staying here — or even if you're not: this award-winning fine dining restaurant showcases Central Otago produce and its menu is changed monthly or even daily by innovative executive chef Ben Batterbury and his clever team. With special relationships built up with local suppliers, wild foraging by the kitchen staff, and an incredible wine list to boot, you'll quickly see why True South is regarded as one of the best places to eat in the area. Our meal featured Bluff oysters, cooked several different ways, This is also where the very good breakfast is served.
Exercise: You'll need this to work off that delicious food. On the bottom floor is a small but well-equipped gym with vibration machines — as a guest you can do a range of classes here for free. If you're feeling energetic, you can rent a bike from reception from $30, or go for a walk along the lakefront.
Noise: Only a little, from other guests.
Price: Rooms start from $315.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes, and it is FAST. You can connect up to 15 devices.
Worth noting: There is a complimentary laundry (with detergent) and ski lockers, complimentary movies (accessed in-room), and a private jetty offering jet boat and water taxi services. If you're hankering after a beauty treatment, the concierge can organise a therapist from Body Sanctum at The Rees Hotel to come to your room.
What's so good about this place? The food is really good, a highlight, and I liked the personal, friendly service from the staff.
Would I return? I loved this hotel but, if I stayed here again, I'd prefer to have my own car. Town is just a little far to walk, and the shuttle is great but there's so much to do in the wider Queenstown area, you really need a vehicle.
The Rees is at 377 Frankton Road, Queenstown. Phone: (03) 450 1100.